This week’s cool weather aside, it’s spring. We’re not that far from summer, in fact. I know that I — along with the new patch of grass that I’m trying to grown in my back yard — could use a bit more sunshine in my life.
Enter Long Island sauvignon blanc. Bright, citrusy and refreshing it’s one of the go-to wines at my house every summer. Look for my feature story in the summer issue of the Long Island Wine Press for a full run-down on the grape, why it’s so well-suited to Long Island and the various styles being made here.
In the meantime, this week’s “Wine of the Week” is Paumanok Vineyards 2016 Sauvignon Blanc ($24) which deftly exemplifies what Long Island sauvignon blanc is and can be.
At Paumanok, the 2016 growing year was extremely dry, with some rain during the harvest portion of the season.
“The resultant sauvignon blanc is a little leaner and greener which is a good thing for sauvignon blanc,” says winemaker Kareem Massoud. “It has a vivacious personality, it is bone dry with snappy acidity.”
Massoud shoots for balance in all of his wines, and with sauvignon blanc that means handling the pyrazines — those compounds that bring grassy or herbal or even vegetal flavors — in the grapes themselves. sauvignon blanc has “very high pyrazines” so it’s important to remove leaves from around the grape clusters themselves, allowing the sun to reach the grapes, which also “contributes to achieving our goal of growing the healthiest, ripest fruit possible,” he says.
“I like to make the analogy to our sense of hearing. If you are having a conversation with someone by a busy street, you may hear the other party over the din of the traffic. But if a motorcade of loud motorcycles passes by you may see the other party’s mouth moving but you won’t hear what they’re saying,” Massoud says. He continues, “In much the same way, there is a conversation going on in your glass of wine. If one aroma compound completely dwarfs the others in its intensity, that will be the only aroma you smell. This is true of pyrazines when they are pronounced in intensity. By growing grapes with lower pyrazine content you now allow other traits such as citrus fruit and minerality to express themselves whereas they may not have been noticeable otherwise.”
The 2016 is bright and melon-y with lots of lemon and grapefruit citrus and restrained grassy-herbal notes. As the wine warms to room temperature, a distinct minerally note emerges — but it’s so easy to drink that it may not get to that point in your glass.
Massoud says, “I think it pairs well with simple fish dishes (roasted striped bass or other white meat fish, shellfish, shrimp, calamari, etc.) with fresh lemon as well as light cheese and leafy green combinations such as a fresh chevre with arugula or spinach, for example.”